This is the seventh in our series of key takeaways from some of the presentations and panel discussions offered at the Social Commerce Summit in May 2008.

Following the success and customer engagement Dell has earned through IdeaStorm and Direct2Dell, Sean McDonald and Stuart Wallock shared their ideas and strategies for harnessing user-generated content to nurture their customer community.

According to Sean and Stuart, the success of any customer-centered strategy is:

10% Technology + 90% People and processe

This means the tools used to empower a customer community are only a fraction of the equation, being overwhelmingly supported by how an organization embraces the strategy and how new, consumer-generated ideas are incorporated (see Customer Oxygen).

As an example of Dell’s commitment to customer-centricity, the company’s Linux PCs went from a customer suggestion to market in less than 3 months – a development time unheard of for an organization of Dell’s size.

Overall, Sean and Stuart recommend the follow tips for succeeding with UGC:

  1. Promote and Encourage Participation – 70-80% of Dell’s review volume is the result of either promotional activities or post-purchase emails. Listen to your community managers and follow best practices to achieve optimal results.
  2. Expose Your Content – Amplify your customer voice in every channel possible. Whether you’re looking for new product ideas or authentic product feedback, be sure to make use of and amplify the content you collect.
  3. Use All the Information You Collect – Every time you solicit reviews from your customers, you are collecting an equally important amount of information in the form of consumer context. Use that information to make informed decisions about future products or further customer engagement.

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